Los Angeles — Since opening in 2008, the Los Angeles Campus of The Chicago School of Professional Psychology (TCSPP) has offered a host of free or low-cost services to the local community, including crisis intervention training; workshops on topics from post-traumatic stress disorder to substance abuse; mental health counseling; and research in partnership with local organizations and agencies. TCSPP recently provided a physical home for much of this work, with the formal launch of its Forensic Training Institute (the Institute), located just upstairs from TCSPP at 617 West 7th Street in Los Angeles.
"Our discussions with agency and community partners uncovered the need for psychology-related training services for the forensic community," said Debra Warner, PsyD, lead faculty for the Los Angeles Campus' doctoral program in Clinical Forensic Psychology and director of the Forensic Training Institute. "Our mission at the Institute is to provide outstanding training to the community while offering our students career development and hands-on learning in delivering the majority of the trainings."
Each year TCSPP's Forensic Psychology Department—and now the Forensic Training Institute—offers a Crisis Intervention Conference, where community leaders, law enforcement, academics, ex-gang members, parents, and others come together to participate in a free 8-hour crisis intervention training delivered by doctoral students and faculty at TCSPP. Last year, the conference hosted 400 participants, and will increase capacity at this year's conference, now that the Institute has its own facility.
The Institute has also partnered with a large number of local agencies and organizations to provide training and assessment, including the Los Angeles Police Department, Sheriff's Department, Coroner's Office, and City Attorney's office; as well as with community organizations, in large part through its relationship with A Better LA, a non-profit organization that empowers grassroots leaders to transform their own neighborhoods. In addition to delivering training for partners of A Better LA, the community organization has provided a $75,000 grant to the Institute for research on the efficacy of its community intervention programs. Part of this research resulted in two student posters shown at the 2010 American Psychological Association Convention.
"The Forensic Training Institute has worked closely with A Better LA on several parts of its approach to transforming communities—strategic planning, providing interns for mental health services, guidance around evidence-based practice, and guidance around training community outreach workers," said Brian Center, executive director of A Better LA. "In many respects, this project is just getting started, but we have seen great outcomes to date. Homicides are down in each of A Better LA's target areas, and historic relationships have been created between law enforcement, outreach workers, and the community. A model has been developed to create lasting change, and The Chicago School has been in the middle of that process."
Students from a variety of psychological disciplines in addition to forensic psychology are involved in providing services through the Institute, said Dr. Warner, including those studying clinical psychology, industrial and organizational psychology, and business psychology.
"Developing and delivering training, in addition to the research I have done in connection with the Institute, has been an incredible learning experience," said Samantha Saucedo, a second-year student in TCSPP's Clinical Forensic Psychology doctoral program. "This work has given me the opportunity to practice my newly acquired skills, as well as to develop a multicultural sensitivity that will inform my work and career.”